Sikhs have clashed on the anniversary of a deadly army raid at their religion's holiest shrine, the Golden Temple. A police officer put the number of people injured at 10, after people crossed swords.
Several people were injured on Friday at the Amritsar temple complex in northern India, as Sikhs clashed with each other at a ceremony meant to honor the 1984 Indian army raid on the Golden Temple. Domestic news network NDTV reported that 12 people were injured as worshippers clashed, some of them brandishing ceremonial swords.
A relatively banal argument over who should be first to address the assembled crowd at the anniversary ceremony appeared to spark the fighting.
In 1984, hundreds were killed in "Operation Blue Star," a six-day raid on the temple complex in a bid to flush out armed separatists demanding an independent Sikh homeland.
"Today, we were supposed to have a solemn remembrance for the martyrs of 1984 so what has happened is very sad," said Prem Singh Chandumajra, a spokesman for a Sikh outfit calling for independence whose members were involved in the fighting. "The Temple has once again been dishonored today."
Chandumajra's group, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), and members of Sikhism's top religious body, Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), were involved in the fighting. The Amritsar splinter group also claiming the name Shiromani Akali Dal broke away from the organization recognized by the Indian government as Shiromani Akali Dal - the most powerful party in the Punjab region - more than 20 years ago.
According to an SGPC spokesman, the scuffle started amid an argument over who should first use the microphone to address the crowd. The SGPC was scheduled to do so, but Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) members wanted to speak first instead.
"Members of a radical outfit confronted the temple's task force, triggering the fight. Some 10 people have been injured, two of them are being treated in hospital," a police officer told the AFP news agency.
Sikh groups dispute the official death toll of at least 400 for the 1984 attack at the Golden Temple, saying that thousands lost their lives. A few months after the six-day attack, in October 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead by one of her own Sikh bodyguards in what was thought to be a revenge attack. Her assassination, in turn, triggered anti-Sikh riots in which thousands were killed, many on the streets of New Delhi.
A British probe into the UK government's role in the attack concluded in February of this year, defining British influence on the events as "limited."
msh/pfd (AFP, dpa, Reuters)